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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
July 6, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

PA Funds Mourning Tent for Terrorist Who Stabbed Israeli Girl to Death - Ruthie Blum (Algemeiner)
    The mourning tent of the family whose son slaughtered a 13-year-old Israeli girl in her Kiryat Arba bedroom on Thursday morning was funded by the PA, and flags of Fatah, the faction headed by President Abbas, were flying overhead, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Sunday.

Somalia President Recently Met with Israeli Prime Minister - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia in the first high-level contact between the two countries, a source close to the Somali leader told the Times of Israel.
    Somalia is a mostly Sunni Muslim country and a member of the Arab League.

Peace Index: Israeli Jews Want Talks But Doubt They Will Succeed - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Tel Aviv University-Israel Democracy Institute)
    The Peace Index poll conducted June 28-29, 2016, found that while 58% of Israeli Jews favor conducting peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, 78% do not believe they will lead to peace in the coming years.
    See also Poll: Majority of Jews in Israel Favor Controlling West Bank - Jack Brook (Jerusalem Post)
    The June Peace Index survey found that 55% of the Jewish public believes Israeli control of the West Bank should continue, either by sustaining the status quo or through annexation.

Egypt-Hamas Tensions Continue - Dov Lieber (Times of Israel)
    Egyptian intelligence officials have cancelled an invitation to a large Hamas delegation headed by deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk to visit Cairo, the London-based Arabic newspaper Rai al-Youm reported.
    At a meeting with Hamas leaders in Cairo in March, Egyptian intelligence officials issued a number of demands and questions ahead of any possible reconciliation, and they have not been content with the answers.
    Cairo demanded that Hamas tighten border controls and prevent Islamic State fighters in Sinai from entering Gaza, but Egyptian officials reportedly believe Hamas is still interacting with IS.

New Mosaics Discovered in Synagogue Excavations in Galilee (Science Blog)
    Excavations this summer in the Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel's Lower Galilee, have revealed stunning new mosaics.
    A panel with Noah's Ark depicts an ark and pairs of animals, including elephants, leopards, donkeys, snakes, bears, lions, ostriches, camels, sheep and goats.
    A scene of the parting of the Red Sea shows Pharaoh's soldiers being swallowed by large fish, surrounded by overturned chariots with horses and chariot drivers.
    "This is by far the most extensive series of biblical stories ever found decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue," said Jodi Magness, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
    See also Bible Scenes Uncovered in Ruins of Ancient Synagogue - A. R. Williams (National Geographic)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli PM: Africa Has No Better Friend than Israel
    Africa has no better friend than the State of Israel for the practical needs of security and development, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya, as he met with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Israel played a prominent role in assisting newly independent African countries in the 1960s, but those relations crumbled in the 1970s when Arab countries, promising aid, pressured African nations to limit or cut ties with Israel.
        Kenyatta told Netanyahu that African leaders would work to restore Israel as an observer to the 54-state African Union. "I strongly believe it's critical for us to reevaluate our relationship...with the State of Israel given the challenges that we in the African continent are faced with today," Kenyatta said. (AP-New York Times)
        See also Israel Seeks to Do Business with Africa - Ruth Eglash
    Along with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Africa, the heads of 70 Israeli companies took part in a parallel business trip to Africa, and on Tuesday held meetings with Kenyan business leaders. A growing middle class and rising urbanization in many of the continent's countries have paved the way for economic opportunities in the region, said Eli Groner, director general of Netanyahu's office. (Washington Post)
        See also Tanzania to Open Embassy in Israel
    Tanzania's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Susan Kolimba, told the National Assembly in June that the government has decided to open an embassy in Israel. (Tanzania Daily News)
  • UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Says He Regrets Calling Hamas and Hizbullah "Friends" - Rajeev Syal
    Jeremy Corbyn told MPs investigating accusations of anti-Semitism in Britain's Labour party on Monday that he regrets once calling members of Hamas and Hizbullah "friends." Corbyn also expressed regret at his choice of words at a press conference last week, which led to disputed claims he was drawing a parallel between Israel and Islamic State.
        Asked about former London Mayor Ken Livingstone's claim that Hitler supported Zionism, Corbyn told MPs: "Ken Livingstone made remarks that are wholly unacceptable and wrong."  (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Video: Dashcam Captures Attempted Palestinian Stabbing Attack
    Two IDF soldiers stopped a female Palestinian assailant who approached them with a knife clenched in her raised hand at a bus stop they were guarding near the West Bank city of Ariel. As she continued to approach the soldiers, they shot and wounded her. A video of the attack, posted on YouTube, was shot from a passing vehicle. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gazans Sent to Smuggle Hamas Cash in Their Shoes Enabled Israel to Learn about New Terror Tunnels - Yaakov Lappin
    The arrest of two Gazans with terrorism-financing cash hidden in their shoes enabled Israel to gain valuable intelligence on the underground network of tunnels Hamas and Islamic Jihad are digging in Gaza, Israeli security forces disclosed on Tuesday. On June 16, Israel arrested Faiz Atar, 65, from Bet Lahia in Gaza, who had a permit to enter Israel to conduct trade. The Israel Security Agency (ISA) said he hid cash in his shoes for Hamas and smuggled tens of thousands of euros to terrorist operatives in the West Bank.
        During the investigation, Israel gleaned valuable information on Atar's family in Gaza and their activities on behalf of Hamas, including tunnel digging. "The investigation revealed information on tunnel openings, which are partly located underneath civilian structures - including innocent civilian residential buildings and mosques - and rocket launch locations, which are located near civilian structures," ISA said.
        In a second case, security forces nabbed Gaza resident Itallah Sarahan, 37, at the Erez Crossing in June with 10,000 euros stuffed in his shoes, intended for Hamas operatives in the West Bank. He had received a permit to enter Israel for trade purposes. Sarahan had worked as a truck driver in Gaza, clearing sand from Hamas and Islamic Jihad tunnel digging sites. "Sarahan passed on much information about the tunnels he was exposed to, including...their exact locations."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • One Year after the Iran Deal: Sinking Confidence in the U.S. Balancing Role - James F. Jeffrey
    The reverberations of the Iran deal (JCPOA) continue to echo throughout a Middle East that is arguably less secure than it was last July, in part because of the agreement. The region perceives that its political effects have encouraged, even enabled, Iran's hegemonic quest, and there is enough truth in this view that the burden is on Washington to show it is not the case. It is the wind in Iran's sails conjured by the deal, rather than any JCPOA specifics, that so concern most regional states.
        The deal has given Iran the means to expand its regional heft through diplomacy, money, surrogates, and violence by allowing the regime to profit from the release of many tens of billions of dollars of previously blocked oil earnings and renewed oil exports, to leave the negotiating table flush with arguable "victories" (i.e., maintaining the right to enrich uranium and avoiding a confession about its weaponization program), and to become newly attractive as a global trading partner.
        The Obama administration has become so indebted to Iran for the agreement that it has avoided challenging Iran and, worse, seems to view the agreement as a transformative moment with Tehran. For Ankara, Jerusalem, and most Arab states, Iran appears on the march in multiple theaters, without major U.S. pushback. The writer served as U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor and as Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Hizbullah Pays the Price for Iran's Gamble in Aleppo - Haid Haid
    Hizbullah supporters reportedly blamed Russia for Hizbullah's mounting casualties in Syria and publically criticized Moscow for not using its air force to protect the party's fighters. Exhaustion among Hizbullah fighters, who are spread over several fronts in Syria, may also have contributed to the recent spike in casualties. Ali al-Saadi, a field commander in the Iraqi Shiite militia Harakat al-Nujaba, which is active in Syria, told Al-Quds al-Araby that Hizbullah has requested urgent reinforcement from Iraqi Popular Mobilization militias to support their fighters in Aleppo. He added that the Russian government had informed its Syrian counterparts that airstrikes in support of Hizbullah near Aleppo would not be useful unless there were enough soldiers on the ground to secure areas taken from rebels.
        A Western diplomat based in Lebanon explained, "Iran was trying to drag Russia into Aleppo by starting the fight there alone and hoping that the developments on the ground would push the later [Russia] to join. However, it seems that Hizbullah is the one who paid the heaviest price for Iran's gamble."  (NOW-Lebanon)
  • Two-State Solution Won't Solve Mideast Crisis, Says Brookings Expert - J.P. O'Malley
    Shadi Hamid, born into a Muslim family in Pennsylvania, is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, and recently authored a new book, Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle over Islam Is Reshaping the World. He says, "Bringing about a two-state solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] would help. It's something that the international community should strive to do. But we shouldn't be under any illusions that it would unlock the puzzle of [failed states] across the Middle East right now." Even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were somehow miraculously resolved tomorrow with a two-state solution, the Middle East would still be "a bloody dangerous place."
        "It feels like Israel-Palestine has almost become an afterthought for how we talk about the Middle East nowadays. It isn't the central conflict in the region....The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the key to resolving the ongoing problems, or making peace, in the Middle East."  (Times of Israel)

Diplomatic Ties Help Israel Defang International Criticism - Luke Baker (Reuters)

  • Ahead of the release last week of a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the Quartet of Middle East mediators, the word from diplomats was that it would be hard-hitting, especially on Israel. Those concerns reached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who flew to Moscow to see President Vladimir Putin, and met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in Rome.
  • In the end, after weeks of delay, the report was mild in the extreme. Israeli settlement-building was criticized but not called illegal. The prime focus was on Palestinian incitement. Palestinians were outraged.
  • "There's just no appetite to go toe-to-toe with Israel and deliver a really harsh indictment," said one European ambassador. "No one sees the upside to it." Many EU member states have good and growing relations with Israel. Like Turkey, which last week agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Israel after a six-year hiatus, they see a future of expanding business, trade and energy ties.
  • Whereas a few years ago Israel mostly had to rely on Germany, Britain and the Czech Republic to defend its interests in the EU, now it can count Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Hungary and a handful of others among potential allies. At the same time, Netanyahu has bolstered relations with Russia, talks regularly about a "new horizon" with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, especially to confront Iran, and plays up Israel's high-tech links to China, India and Africa, where Netanyahu is on a four-day visit.
  • Late last year, looking for ways to apply pressure on Israel over settlements, officials in the U.S. State Department examined the possibility of suspending loan guarantees, a step last taken by the first Bush administration in the early 1990s. But because of low interest rates and Israel's increased economic strength, the country wouldn't have a problem raising funds cheaply on international markets.
  • At the same time, the Palestinians have done little to win friends and influence opinion at a time of rising Islamist insurgency across much of the Middle East. As long as the Palestinians are divided between Abbas' Fatah party in the West Bank and the Islamist Hamas which controls Gaza, talk of negotiating a two-state solution with Israel will remain remote at best.

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